TYLER, Texas — Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest times for road travel. That is why the Texas Department of Transportation is reminding East Texans about the importance of wearing your seatbelt, every time you get in a vehicle.

“Well, when you look at the fact that almost 1,000 people lost their lives in Texas last year because they were not wearing a seatbelt,” TxDOT public information officer, Kathi White, said. “And here in the Tyler district, there were 104 crashes and 44 people lost their lives. They were not buckled up.”

A startling number that hits home for the Mills family from Spring, Texas.

“Well, we lost our 16-year-old daughter Kailee in a car crash year and a half ago and hopefully we can prevent another family from having to go through the tragedy that we've gone through,” David Mills said.

Kaliee unbuckled her seatbelt for just a moment when the vehicle she was riding in crashed. She was ejected from the car and died. The others in the vehicle suffered minor injuries. They were wearing their seatbelts.

Now Kailee’s parents are traveling all over Texas with the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, to remind everyone to buckle up.

“We wish that we could just pay a fine or a ticket to make this go away and unfortunately, this is permanent for us, you're not always going to get a second chance,” David Mills said. “You know, if you're not going to do it for yourself, do it for the people that love you, and the people that are counting on you to make it home safe.”

Today, the Mills family joined law enforcement officers from all over East Texas to talk about seatbelt safety at the kick-off event in downtown Tyler for “Click It or Ticket.”

The event featured a replica of the car crash that killed Kailee Mills. She would have turned 18 this Memorial Day.

Tyler-City Police Department
Tyler-City Police Department Facebook

“So it's very important if you're on that road, and you're in a vehicle, buckle up for your safety,” White said. “And you know, all of us want to go home to our loved ones every day. So that's one way that we can ensure that that happens.”